Sign outside Penticton courthouse.

Sign outside Penticton courthouse.

Accused Penticton meth dealer on trial

Penticton man alleged to have been caught with 20.6 grams of methamphetamine.

Nine hours into what had already been a busy shift, Penticton RCMP Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth was stunned when a suspected impaired driver showed up right in front of him at a local store.

The subsequent investigation turned up nearly 21 grams of crystal meth and a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking against Grant Edward McEwen, 48, whose trial began Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton.

Wrigglesworth testified that he pulled into the 24/7 Convenience Store parking lot around 4 a.m. on June 22, 2014, while on his way back to the local RCMP detachment and watched a man stagger out of the shop and into the driver’s seat of a vehicle in the parking lot.

“I remember my thought was: Are you kidding me?” the officer said, adding he had just arrived at 24/7 in a fully marked RCMP SUV.

McEwen was “fidgety” and “appeared to be intoxicated, given his movements,” Wrigglesworth said, which prompted the Mountie to approach the vehicle that also had a 15-year-old girl in the passenger seat.

Wrigglesworth said McEwen’s ride smelled of vegetative marijuana and McEwen admitted to having a joint in a cigarette package. A full search of the car then turned up two sandwich bags that contained 24 smaller bags of crystal meth with a total weight of 20.6 grams.

The drugs were on the floor on the driver’s side of the vehicle next to the centre console, the Mountie continued, and two cell phones containing text messages “consistent with drug trade” were found inside the centre console.

Under cross-examination, the officer admitted no fingerprints were found on the drug bags and that the 15-year-old girl could have placed the drugs on the floor while no one was looking.

RCMP drug expert Sgt. Craig McMillan later testified that the packaging of meth into 24 small bags was consistent with street-level dealing, which typically sees buyers pay $10 for one-tenth of a gram known as a “point.”

“If someone was going to purchase a significant quantity of meth, such as a quarter-ounce, it would be in one package,” said McMillan, adding chronic meth users don’t usually buy large amounts because they don’t have the money to do so or are worried about getting robbed or binging.

He estimated that if sold by the point, the meth McEwen is accused of possessing was worth about $2,000.

The trial was expected to conclude Tuesday.